Lieberman's defeat in the primary is getting a lot of news attention and analysis. What does this mean for the Democrats? For the Republicans? How much does this reflect a shift in the national zeitgeist?
And it is interesting, because Lieberman is the sort of ensconced politician you do not expect to see lose over issues. He has not been caught in bed with a live boy, dead girl, or Jack Abramoff. He has high national visibility and brings home decent pork for Connecticut. But he lost his party's support.
In a lot of ways this is a good thing. Not because of Lieberman in particular (though I am not a fan) but because anytime an American politician loses his or her seat due to issues based voting the American political system gets stronger. It's said that we had a dictatorship for the first 8 years of our country, it only became a true democracy when George Washington willingly relinquished power and allowed the voters to select his successor. Well with incumbency success rates in the high 90's we are in danger of becoming a de-facto dictatorship again. The Lieberman defeat shows that the American people still control their politicians, and, at least in this case, not the other way around.
On the other hand Lieberman's loss is probably much worse for the Democrats than for the Republicans. Connecticut is among the bluest states in the Union, so it's not surprising that an anti-war candidate would win the primary. What it does show, though, is that the Democratic base is starting to turn against pro-war candidates. Since Hillary Clinton is the presumed favorite to run for president in '08, the Democrats' next golden girl has had a weakness exposed. Hillary is about as pro-war as Lieberman (at least today.)
Then again Hillary Clinton's losing the nomination might give the Democrats an actual shot in the general election. We'll see.
Anyway, the problem for the Democrats is that there's a lot of hay to be made among swing-voters on issues of national security. Today's airline plot (which appears to actually have been real) is an example of this. People get scared that they or their loved ones will be blown up in the sky and they want to DO something to protect themselves, even if that something is ultimately ineffective. The Right offers answers, albeit the wrong ones. The far left offers nothing. Here's Randi Rhodes debating Neal Boortz. Boortz is an asshole, but he demolishes Rhodes by getting her to say that the proper response to Hezbollah's killing and kidnapping Israeli soldiers would have been diplomacy and "Police actions." Like that's a viable answer to someone raining missiles on your head. As if Lebanon had ANY interest in "Police actions" against Hezbollah. As if Israel could actually TALK to Iran and Syria. It's asinine drivel and it's feeding right into the Right's hands.
I don't know what Ned Lamont would say the appropriate response to Hezbollah's aggression would be, but if he, as I suspect, is on the Randi Rhodes side then he will be a poster boy for demonizing the Democrats. If the Democrats are seen as the party of Neville Chamberlain they will lose, even though they are, in fact, the party of Franklin Roosevelt. If the Democrats actually posit that the only way to defeat terrorism is through talking, well, it's game over. The Republicans will have a field day, because no thinking person actually believes you can negotiate with extremists and religious fanatics, and there are as many unthinking people on the Right as there are on the Left.
What the Democrats NEED to be doing is calling for principled war, war that minimizes civilian casualties, war that has specific real objectives and seeks to achieve them. War that is followed by a serious multi-national rebuilding effort. It is defensible to say that a Nato Force would be a better choice to disarm Hezbollah than an IDF force. It is indefensible to suggest that Israel should engage in idle chatter while rockets fall on their towns and their soldiers are openly attacked.
As long as the Left stands for pacifism in the face of violence it will lose. It should stand for reluctant and proportionate response.